This week’s article is a little different. We’ve already gone over ways you can help yourself through homesickness. Now it’s time to look outward. Maybe you have a friend that is traveling or your sibling is going to college far from home. Plenty of people get homesick every day. And, simply put, it’s much easier it is to be homesick when you have someone to support you.
There is no better feeling than getting out all that pent-up stress and sadness by talking it through. That is where you, the Pit Crew, come in. Listening to someone talk about their problems sounds easy enough, but there are many ways to make things easier, or significantly harder, for someone who is homesick.
My family does a pretty great job of getting me out of a slump. When I am at my worst, I know that I can call up my siblings or my parents and they will be ready and willing to cheer me up. They know that travelling is very important to me, even with all the difficult bits. How is it they know just what to say to make me feel better? I want to know the method to their madness. I decided to ask my mom and my sister for their best advice.
Here are their six tips for being the best Pit Crew to an intrepid traveler!
1. Make sure they get their sleep.
Mom says: We’re all a little ragged when sleep deprived.
You can tell this advice is coming from a mom. It’s simple and yet easy to forget. In general, I find that problems I have seem better after a good night’s sleep. Falling asleep when you are homesick is not always easy, but it is important to try. I would always call home at night because that was when I got most upset. My mother would listen to me for a while, but she would always be telling me to go to sleep when it got too late. It’s always easier to tackle impossible obstacles when well rested.
2. Set up a regular time to Skype or call.
Mom says: Try to keep it to once a week, but some situations may call for flexibility.
This may not be the most convenient or easy step thanks to time zones and work schedules, but if you can find a time when you are both free, even just once a week, it can make all the difference. Having a constant in a strange world is an immense relief. Like I mentioned in my last article, it gives that person something to look forward to.
3. Encourage them to get out.
Mom says: Take a walk. Your new neighborhood will become your neighborhood the more you discover.
It is easy to lock yourself up in your room when you are feeling like crap, but you miss out on a lot that way. Walking is a good way to clear your head. Make sure that your friend is getting some fresh air and focusing on something besides how lonely or sad they feel. Better yet, tell them to find a place with food. Mom always says life seems less grim with a cup of tea and a slice of pie.
If you want to up your game, encourage them to start a chat with someone then tell you about it. Tell them to talk to the woman serving coffee in the cafe. Say hello to the lady that delivers the mail. These people will probably cross their path on a regular basis. Smile and wave. To be honest, my inner introvert cringes at the idea of trying to strike up conversations with random strangers, but thanks to my mom’s suggestion, I will try to ask a question to the barista or waiter when I am feeling totally cut off from the world.
4. Humor is the best medicine.
The siblings say: HUMOR.
When I asked my older sister for her best strategy to help me when I was homesick, she responded with a single word: HUMOR. Cracking a joke can be a great way to relieve some tension. It is important to vent and get out anger, sadness, and anxiety, but stewing in it won’t help much. When I Skyped home upset, my siblings would always tell me funny stories and try to make me laugh. It didn’t always make everything better, but I appreciated that they were trying really hard to help me out all the same.
Most importantly, don’t get over emotional yourself. It is hard to hear a kid or loved one upset when they are across the world, but if they see that you are upset too, it will make things infinitely worse. Don’t go for the ‘I told you you shouldn’t have done this’ or ‘I wish you were back home now’ or ‘Don’t get upset.You’re making me upset’ (all things I have actually heard parents say). Give the person a chance to express what they are feeling. We need to let out all of our emotions, and you happen to be our sounding board (sorry!).
5. Tell them things will get a little better every day.
Mom says: As long as they are warm, fed, feel safe, and have a roof over their heads, things can’t be too bad.
It takes time to adjust to new situations, and that is okay. Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already have. It’s a great way to get perspective. Whenever I felt like things were spiraling out of control, my mom would say those exact words to me. Are you safe? Are you fed? Do you have a roof over your head? Answering yes to all those questions made me see that I had a lot. I may not have been perfectly happy, but I had a good starting point.
6. Remind them that this isn’t forever.
Mom says: This one is not possible in all cases, but you can modify it as needed. Remind the homesick person that the current living arrangement doesn’t have to be forever. Set dates to reevaluate the plan. Nothing takes the stress off like knowing you can always go home (at least for a little while…). And if you can’t go home, you can always join the circus!
This is one of my favorite tips. Whenever I was at my worst, my mom wouldn’t say I was being irrational. Instead, she would acknowledge how I was feeling and say that the next time we talked we could reevaluate the plan. Instead of questioning why I left in the first place or listening to my tearful pleas to come home, she would tell me to stick it out for X amount of time and see how I was feeling then. I didn’t always want to hear this, but she was right.
Thanks for joining me for Week 3! Sorry about the delay. I wasn’t happy with this post last week, so I figured I’d give it a little more TLC before sending it out into the world.
Next week is going to be the final article in this month-long series. I’m sure I will add to this in the future, but for now, it is back to our regular programming. I hope you are all happy and healthy wherever you are!